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What’s the deal with the Texas Rangers and series openers?

Photo: Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers

What’s the deal with the Texas Rangers and series openers?

The Rangers ended Tuesday’s rare day game with a loss, ending a 19 straight day with a game span. Starting Thursday, the club will play a game on 11 consecutive days, concluding a 30 games in a 31 day stretch. The Rangers fell to two games below .500 after losing to the Giants both Monday and Tuesday, putting them at just 1-14 in their last fifteen games against the National League. However, that’s a topic for another day, say June 1st, when the club goes to Denver.

Thursday’s series opener against the Houston Astros marks the thirteenth series opener of 2021, and let’s say it hasn’t gone well for the Rangers in those twelve openers. Texas is 2-10 this year in series starters, including 0-5 on Fridays. You may think the offense scuffled in those openers, and you’re possibly correct. The Rangers average 3.42 runs/game in those opening games, but this average includes scoring ten runs on Opening Day against the Royals and seven in a game they trailed 5-0 to the White Sox. The pitching averages 5.5 runs/game allowed, which is not great, and keep in mind that in those two games mentioned earlier (against the Royals and White Sox), the club allowed fourteen runs to KC and nine to the Sox.

So what is the deal? Well, first Rangers manager Chris Woodward reiterated, it’s not a lack of preparation, but from an evaluation standpoint, Woody can’t pinpoint the problem exactly. “It may have something to do with the second or third time we face that lineup. Maybe our catchers have more of an idea,” Woodward said Tuesday. Maybe our hitters get a little more comfortable seeing that same uniform on the other side, or they know how they are pitching them.” The club’s performance increases with each game which is a positive silver lining and one that Woodward takes notice of. “I hope we get better the more we face [those] guys. That means we’re learning. It’s a good thing, but we do need to figure out that first game,” Woody said

The opening series game struggles for Texas aren’t too new. Since Woodward became manager, the club has vastly played better after the first game of a series, but for whatever reason, scuffle in the first game. In 2019, the club went 17-35 in series openers and then went 61-49 after the first game. In 2020, the Rangers finished 7-13 in series openers and finished 15-25 after then. You may think 7-13 is better, right? If you span that among a 162 game season, the pace equals an 18-34 record which is a one-game improvement. For the record, the Rangers were 21-31 in series openers in 2018, which is a slightly lower win percentage than their 46-64 record after openers. However, it’s not egregious like these past three seasons.

The only piece I can think of that makes sense is in the two wins. The Rangers have scored first in both of those games. In the ten losses, the Rangers scored first in only two of those and relinquished the lead immediately after scoring first. Another thing is in the two wins, the club never trailed in those games. In the ten losses, the Rangers never led after the fourth inning.

Maybe now that the club is on notice, it’ll sink into their minds. The Rangers get their first crack against the Houston Astros Thursday. Texas looks to remain perfect in winning four-game series’ this weekend in Houston, a place where they’ve lost 13 of their last 15 games. Hey, if they take this series, it makes this season even more special.

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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